Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas Dinner

            “I am undone,” said Mother, “utterly undone!”

            It was Christmas Day.  Alfred and Mother were sitting at the dining room table with their son Jeremy and his fiancĂ© Winifred who had come home for Christmas.

            Mother continued, “I had no idea that it was anything more than just a pretty Christmas  story.”

            She paused and looked at Alfred who said, “Tell me more, Mother.  Tell me more.”
            “Well,” said Mother looking around the table to make sure she had everyone’s attention, “everything fell into place at last Sunday’s service of Carols and Lights.  To see the whole story of the birth of Christ laid out from the beginning to the end made so much sense.”

            She turned to Jeremy and said, “You asked me to read the New Testament, and I did; not once but several times.  I could almost see Jesus walking along the shore of the Galilean Sea with his disciples.  Excuse me, but at times they seemed like such a bunch of dummies.  Then it occurred to me that I was a bit of a dummy myself.”

            There was a hush around the table as Mother bore witness.  She said, “I couldn’t sleep last night so I arose and came down stairs, got my bible from the kitchen and sat by the Christmas tree.  The fire in the fireplace had burned low and I stirred it up and put another log on the fire.  It must have been apple wood; such a lovely fragrance. It was so quiet and so very pleasant.  As I sat there with my bible, rereading the Christmas Story in Luke, I remembered Father Goodfellow saying, ‘This Christmas, let the Christ be born in you,’ and I thought, ‘Why not?’  Then I prayed, and I said, ‘Are you there?’  You see, I wasn’t really sure.  Then a marvelous thing happened.  I knew, I just knew that He was, and I said, “Lord Jesus, be born in me.” and suddenly I felt I was enfolded in His love and His love was all around me.  It seemed to have happened is a moment of time so small I couldn’t wrap my hand around it, but I knew.  I just knew!  I needed a King and now I have one.”

            Alfred bowed his head in silent thanksgiving.  Jeremy and Winifred looked at Mother and beamed.

            “Alfred,” said Mother, “forgive me, I’ve been such an ass and I’ve given you such a hard time, but now I know.”

            “Mother,” said Alfred, “It’s alright, I have often been an ass myself, but I love you.  I have always loved you.”

            “Yes, Alfred,” said Mother, “I know that is true; both the constancy of your love and that occasionally you manage to be an ass, but I love you too.  Now, Alfred, if you will start to carve the standing rib roast, I’ll go to the kitchen.  The Yorkshire pudding should be ready.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Set

            It was late afternoon and Mother and Alfred were sitting in the solarium looking out over the devastation in the garden.  Last week’s winter ice storm had killed the roses and the blossoms hung limply from their stems; no longer white and red, but faded yellow and dull pink.  But that was not what was bothering Mother.

            She sat there looking at the High Tea provided by Agnes Findlay, the Scottish Housekeeper.  Not that there was anything wrong with the High Tea.  What can be wrong about home-made scones, Devonshire Cream, and Black Currant Jelly?  And there was certainly nothing wrong with Whittard’s Ginger and Black Leaf Tea!  No, it wasn't that.

            It was the tea cup.  Not that there was anything wrong with the tea cup, after all who could fault a 1952 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Tea Cup with its marvellous orange gold bone china?

            Mother was holding the tea cup up and looking at the picture of the young queen on the inside of the cup on the opposite side from where a right-handed person would sip.  “That, Alfred,” said Mother, “seems somewhat disrespectful. Pouring tea in a cup right up to the Queen’s crown is just a little odd.”

            A funny look crossed Alfred’s face.  He was never very good at keeping Christmas gifts secret, no matter how hard he tried, not that Mother was very good at that either.  Alfred heaved a sigh, and said, “Well, Mother, I have a Christmas gift for you that I have had tucked away since November.”  With that he scurried off and came back a moment later with a large box wrapped with Lady Rose paper and presented it to Mother.

            “Oh, Alfred,” said Mother, putting down the tea cup.  “What have you done?”

            Alfred put the box down on the table in front of Mother and she gingerly unwrapped the box.  It was labelled, “Royal Collection. Queen’s Jubilee Tea Set” and Alfred had actually had the forethought to remove the price; which is a good thing.

            Mother slowly unpacked the box and loving laid out each item on the table.  “Oh, Alfred,” she said, “how lovely, how very lovely.”

            “Well, Merry Christmas, Mother!” said Alfred.  “I never could keep a secret very well!”

            “Nor, could I,” said Mother.  Then Mother Picked up the Diamond Jubilee tea cup and looked at it thoughtfully for a minute.

            “Mother,” said Alfred, “I wish we had elected Queen Elizabeth II for President.  We would have had a lot less fractiousness in this country.”

            “You know what I wish for? Alfred,” said Mother, “what I wish for, what I really need, is a King for me, just like in that Christmas Card from Grace Whittington, ‘He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.’”

            For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”[Isaiah 9:6].


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jesus Calling

         Mother and Alfred were sitting at the Sheraton table in the solarium on a bright sunny November morning.  All the roses they had picked before the frost warning had long since wilted and had been moved to the compost bin; nevertheless they still beheld the myriad of fragrant roses still blooming outside the solarium windows.

            Mother held a small leather bound volume in her hands.  A look of mild consternation and amusement crossed her face.  “Alfred?” she asked, “How can this author title the book ‘Jesus Calling’ when it’s all her own ideas?”

            Alfred put down the Wall Street Journal he was reading and asked, “Where on earth did you get that, Mother?”

            “Agnes Findlay loaned it to me.  She thought I might enjoy it,” said Mother.  Then she paused and added, “How can the author title it ‘Jesus Calling’?  It’s obviously her own thoughts.”

            “Well, Mother,” said Alfred, “there are a couple of possible answers.  She might have titled it ‘Jesus Calling’ because that was what she heard Jesus saying to her.  The other possibility is that she thinks that what she hears also applies to everyone else.”

            Mother gingerly put the little leather bound book down in the very center of the Sheraton table and said, “That’s just it Alfred.  She doesn’t know everybody and she doesn’t know me.”

            “Quite true, Mother,” said Alfred.  “You are unique and somewhat complicated.”

            Mother eyed him suspiciously and said, “Oh?”

            “I meant that as a compliment,” said Alfred.  “If you weren’t unique and somewhat complicated I wouldn’t have been attracted to you to start with.  As for ‘Jesus Calling’, if the shoe doesn’t fit don’t put it on.  What might be perfectly fine for other people isn’t necessarily fine for you.”

            “Oh, thank you, Alfred,” said Mother.  “That puts my heart at rest.  I’ll just thank Agnes and return to the book to her.  After all I wouldn’t expect her to like ‘The Godfather’ just because I do.”

            Alfred laughed, “Tua FamĂ­lia? Now that’s something I’m sure Agnes wouldn’t like at all.”

            Mother picked the book up off the table and gazed at the title for a minute.  She said in a soft voice, “Jesus Calling?” She put it back down thoughtfully on the table and said,  “Jesus Calling.” “I suppose in a way he is.”

            “Yes, certainly Mother,” said Alfred, “in so many ways and each of them unique to each one us.”

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).